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Inside the Brooklyn Warehouse Where Rad Indie Brands—Like Kordal—Are Taking It to the Next Level

BY liz 12/16/2015

On the seventh floor of the massive Pfizer building in Bushwick, some of the borough’s most talented emerging designers are sharing space—and new ideas—as a part of Pratt’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, or BF + DA. Designers who apply and are accepted into the program get workspace, sure, but also shared materials, mentors, and business experts (including ones that help think about taxes—because if you thought doing your own was bad, just imagine how much worse it gets when you’re incorporated). Plus, there’s even a cute lunchroom with killer views—it’s kind of like a grown-up, designer-centric version of that high school from Fame.

 

“BF + DA is basically that second step for a designer—it’s not for someone that’s just starting, although we do have some pretty new companies. It’s geared towards companies that need larger production options but still might not be at the point where they need 300 of something. It’s more like 50. So all the production on-site is geared towards those smaller orders that are still too big to make in a super small studio. You also meet with a business mentor once a month, and you can sign up for hours with the marketing person or the sales person, so it’s really trying to nurture you to grow into this bigger company. And giving you these check-in points to see how you’re doing.”

 

“One of the components of the studio is the S Lab for sustainability—that’s a big component of the whole program. You can talk to someone here who can help you source better fabrics or better packaging. And to think of sustainability not just in terms of materials but also how to pay yourself a salary and how to pay your employees. It’s a really holistic approach to starting a business. This is our library of fabrics—they’re all curated to be sustainable, and we know that the people who made them are treated well.”

 

“This is the production room. These are the Shimaseki machines. They’re really cool because they do all garment-knitting, and there’s no waste involved. One of these machines does whole garments with no seams at all, which works best for lightweight knits, and another works with heavier-weight knits to create separate pieces that will be joined with seams. It can take anywhere from an hour to about three hours to knit a piece.”

 

“This is a linking machine, which creates the seams. You hang the finished components and it stitches them together. It usually takes about an hour. You have to thread the machine, so we save knitted scraps to get the machines going."

 

“This is a scarf that I knitted on the Shimaseki machines for the one-year anniversary of BF + DA, which just happened. It’s a good example of something that just would be impossible to handknit or to have machine-knit on such a small scale in any other context."

 

“This is the view from our shared kitchen space—after years of working in small studio spaces without a ton of light, it feels so amazing so have views like this. Also, there’s so much amazing food in this building—if you go up two floors, there’s a stand by Pushcart Coffee, or if you go downstairs, there’s ice cream being made by Steve’s. That kind of thing is just super cool to be around.”

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